Note: This is a follow-up to yesterday's post that described the lawsuit filed by the 501(c)3 non-profit Friends of Putah Creek; it is also authored by Friends of Putah Creek.
Description of the Project
The Winters Putah Creek Park project is a perfect example of good restoration intentions going awry and resulting in serious degradation of creek habitat by massive alteration of the natural form of the stream bed. This is being called “geomorphological engineering”.
The project was designed by the Solano County Water Agency (SCWA) to alter the streambed and riparian floodplain in three phases along the entire 1.2 miles of Putah Creek flowing through the City of Winters. The first phase was begun on the upper 1/3 end of the creek in 2011 by nearly clearcutting a mature riparian forest of native and non-native trees alike, from stream bank to stream bank, and importing over 70,000 cubic yards of alien, clayey fill. The soil was graded flat and smooth with a slight 2 percent slope toward stream. The floodplain and channel were heavily compacted and stream was left with only a narrow channel through the center of the former streambed. The final depth of the compacted fill varied from about 2 to over 12 ft.
Stream and floodplain features such as wetlands, ponds, swales, back-channels, undercut banks, and deep pools that create ecological diversity and complexity were completely eliminated in this process. The newly-formed barren floodplain was soon replanted with thousands of native plants. The intention was to quickly provide a fully functional riparian habitat complete with undercut banks and creek-side shading suitable for the entire food chain to thrive.